Paying Foreign Transaction Fees – My Big Rookie Mistake

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One thing I dislike related to credit cards is paying fees of any sort.  Actually even though I dislike paying fees, I still do pay some annual fees because the benefits far outweigh the costs.  For example, the Chase Hyatt credit card is worth keeping despite the $75 fee because of its free category 4 award certification, and the Chase IHG credit card likewise, for its $49 annual fee at any IHG property.  One type of fee I usually never pay is foreign transaction fees, except for my big rookie mistake last week. 

Say No to Foreign Transaction Fees!

Say No to Foreign Transaction Fees!

I recently applied for the US Bank Club Carlson credit card for my wife because of its amazing buy one get one free night perk.  The current sign up offer is 85,000 Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 in 3 months.  You can book many top hotels in London and Paris for only 50,000 points per night, and get the 2nd night free.  The trick is to book 2 nights on my account, and then 2 nights on my wife’s account to get the 2nd free night bonus perk twice.  A four night stay is usually a good length of time when visiting multiple cities.

I always like to get my minimum spending out of the way as quick as I can so I don’t have to panic or worry about reaching it in the last couple weeks.  I was given the offer from my family to use my credit card to pay for some airline tickets and they could pay me back in cash.  Since a lot of my family collects points and miles, they try to help each other out when they can.  Without thinking thoroughly, I decided to have them charge my US Bank Club Carlson card for two flights to Copenhagen.  I was thinking that it would be great to get this minimum spend out of the way.

A week later, I checked my statement to see a foreign transaction fee!  I thought it was a mistake, but I checked the credit card perks, and US Bank credit cards do not waive foreign transaction fees.  I was so used to most of my credit cards waiving the foreign transaction fees, that I didn’t double check that this was one of them!

Be sure to never pay foreign transaction fees by using credit cards such as Chase Ink Bold and Chase Sapphire Preferred.  Just because there is a chip in the credit card, doesn’t mean foreign transaction fees are waived!  Also, for money exchange never pay more than the official rate by using the Charles Schwab ATM card or the Fidelity Cash Management Account Card.

I tried calling US Bank for a one time courtesy waiver, but there was nothing they could do.  I usually don’t make these kind of mistakes, but I know now to be extra careful about these small details from this $50~ lesson.  It is still a small price to pay considering the thousands of dollars of free travel I’ve received.  It can be a lot to remember in this hobby of points and miles, especially for me because I also work a full-time accounting job that requires a lot of attention to details too.  Take it slow and easy.  Don’t make a rookie mistake like me!

11 comments for “Paying Foreign Transaction Fees – My Big Rookie Mistake

  1. Lars Hampton
    June 23, 2014 at 4:48 am

    So you must have purchased the airline tickets on a foreign airline then, perhaps SAS, to incur foreign transaction fees right? The airline was headquartered outside the US, is that the reason for the fees in this case?

    • June 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

      It was Norweigan Air’s website. Yes it is outside the US.

  2. Lively
    June 23, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Just out of curiosity, what airlines are you taking to Copenhagen?

  3. June 23, 2014 at 10:54 am

    That’s weird, I didn’t think booking an airline ticket (even if it’s an international one) would be a foreign transaction. I made a similar mistake a month ago when booking a starwood hotel outside the US using my SPG card. Fortunately, I was able to convince the hotel to give me a refund and recharge it to my capital one venture card.

    • June 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Yes, if it’s purchased on their system. If it is AA to Paris for example, they wouldn’t charge.

  4. IL
    June 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Romin,

    I’d like to pick your brain on considering status matching my A3 gold to AA or AS. Do you think they’ll bite?

    Secondly, do I need to have a particular travel destination/redemption in mind before doing so?

    I currently have no AA or AS miles, but MR and UR and SPG. But with the United devaluations, I’m considering switching over to AA or AS for more reasonable partner redemptions. I mostly redeem for int’l travel, like you.


    • June 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

      I don’t think you can status match but not sure. You don’t need a specific dwstination

      • IL
        June 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        Ok thanks.

  5. Jerry Mandel
    June 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I use my British Airways card for foreign purchases.

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